We Are ‘All EV’ Now

Two months ago, we traded in my wife’s Mini Cooper for a BMW i3 REX on a two-year lease. Apart from the small scooter engine in the REX, we are all electric.

I am enjoying the i3 very much and am struck by how different the driving experiences are between the i3 and the Fit EV. The first difference you see when sitting in the driver’s chairs is that the i3 does not have any physical gauges – just 2 flat panel displays and there is no “gear selector” between the seats in a console. The selector is on a pod on the right side of the steering wheel that includes on/off, park, drive, neutral, reverse. ‘Park’ is a different button than the selector for D/N/R so it would be very difficult to engage ‘park’ accidentally. After 2 months, it is still not second nature and I have to think about it.

The display in front of the driver has the usual information that you would want in an EV – state of charge, range, instantaneous power usage. The panel in the middle of the dash has a main menu with nearly a dozen options, each with many sub-options. I devoted a time to visit each option and figure it out while not driving. Some options i use often and some not at all. I found the key is to be able to find what you need while driving or be prepared to pull off the road to figure it out. Who knew that the location of the ChargePoint stations was under Points of Interest?

Once underway, the driving experience is much more comfortable than the Fit. The REGEN feature is very aggressive compared to the FIT – in the i3, I am able to drive using my right foot on/off the accelerator almost exclusively – rarely touching the brakes to slow. This is not possible in the Fit, even using the B setting to maximize regen braking.

The i3 handles rough roads much better than the i3 and is generally more comfortable, as you would expect from a car at almost twice the price.

The REX (range extender) has allowed us to take longer trips than we would have in the Fit without worrying about how to get home or where to charge on the road. In my next post I will describe our adventures with charging on the road and how the REX changes the experience.

With 8 months to go on my Fit lease, I have some time to ponder the alternatives…the i3 experience has been an eye-opener.

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